Teeth Shifting? Here's What to Do (& Not to Do) | Byte® (2022)

Table of Contents

  1. Causes of Shifting Teeth
  2. Prevention
  3. When to See an Expert
  4. References

Your bite feels unusual. Your jaw muscles hurt. And when you look in the mirror, you notice that your teeth have shifted position.

It's not unusual for your teeth to shift. Everything from aging to dental disease can prompt your teeth to take up new positions. Your first task is to avoid panic. Next, take action. Unless you address the cause of your teeth movement, they'll keep on shifting until your smile is barely recognizable.

Sometimes, you need a doctor's help to stop the shift. But sometimes, at-home care can do the trick.

Causes of shifting teeth.

Before you can know how to help your teeth stick to one spot, you'll need to understand why they are moving. Your teeth could be shifting for a variety of reasons.

Teeth Shifting? Here's What to Do (& Not to Do) | Byte® (1)
Aging

As we age, our bones thin. This is especially true for women, as changes sparked by menopause can impact how quickly our bones both grow and break down.

In time, you could be losing more bone each day than you build, and as your jaws thin, your teeth start to collapse toward one another. The front two lower teeth are most susceptible to this shift, experts say.

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Missing Teeth

Injury or illness could prompt the removal of one or several of your teeth. Typically, dentists recommend bridges or caps to fill the gaps. Without them, experts say, your teeth slowly drift to fill the leftover space.

The teeth closest to the gap shift first, but then their neighbors follow suit. In time, experts say, your entire smile could be filled with gaps.

Wisdom Teeth

The back corners of your mouth host your wisdom teeth, and these molars often develop when your smile is relatively set. They can, Mayo Clinic says, fail to break through the gums at all.

They can also develop horizontally, and when that happens, they push on neighboring teeth. Some people feel pain when these teeth do this, but others feel nothing at all.

Avoiding Retainers

After you wear braces or aligners, you must wear retainers to protect your investment and keep your teeth in place. Typically, you wear a retainer for 12 hours per day for the first six months. Then, you wear it at night indefinitely.

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Skip one or both of those steps, and your teeth could attempt to move back to their prior positions.

Grinding Teeth

Your muscles should relax at night while you sleep. But for some people, the nighttime is punctuated by periodic clenching and unclenching of the jaw muscles. This is bruxism, and it can cause your teeth to move.

Pressure is unevenly placed within your jaw, and some teeth take the brunt of your muscle movement. Those teeth begin to rotate or shift, and their neighbors start to do the same. Bruxism is common in children, experts say, but it's less common in adults.

Some people have a combination of issues sparking tooth movement. You may forget your retainers and then notice that your wisdom teeth are appearing, for example. But most people have an issue doctors consider the prime cause of tooth movement. Fixing that issue is vital.

If your teeth move due to grinding or avoiding retainers, the solution is clear, but if it's caused by something like wisdom teeth or missing teeth, you may need more help from a professional.

How to stop and prevent your teeth from shifting.

When you know that your teeth are shifting, and you've pinpointed what seems to be the primary cause, you can take action. Often, you can access at-home care to ensure that your smile stays put.

To halt future tooth shifts:

Teeth Shifting? Here's What to Do (& Not to Do) | Byte® (2)
Emphasize Good Dental Care

Your teeth are rooted firmly to your jaw via ligaments and bones. But your gums work to support your teeth as they root down into lower structures.

Skip essential steps like brushing and flossing, and you will develop gaps between your teeth and your gums. Those pockets harbor bacteria, but they also allow your teeth to flex. Keeping your teeth clean can keep this from happening.

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Wear Your Retainer

If you've worn braces or aligners, your retainer isn't optional. This tool doesn't exert the same force used by aligners and braces, experts say, but it can apply gentle pressure that keeps your teeth from straying too far. Follow instructions and wear this device properly.

Opt For A Mouthguard

If you grind your teeth at night, a soft split can keep your teeth from touching. Your muscles may still clench and grind, but the surfaces won't connect. That could keep your teeth from moving.

Guards like this can be made of hard acrylic or softer materials.

Many of the solutions we've mentioned above have an at-home component. You can head to the drugstore and buy a mouth guard, for example. And you don't need a prescription for toothpaste or floss. But some at-home techniques you might be tempted to try can harm your teeth.

Don't use tools like rubber bands or string to tie your teeth together and stop them from moving. These items can creep up your teeth and lodge firmly in the roots. Once there, they can kill your teeth altogether.

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Similarly, don't chew on sticks or ice. Some people believe that nibbling on something hard like this can freeze your teeth in place, so they won’t shift at all. There’s no evidence that this works.

When to see an expert.

Sometimes, you can stop your teeth from moving with at-home tools and a bit of persistence. But sometimes, an expert must help you to protect and amend your smile.

You'll need to visit a dentist or orthodontist if your teeth are moving due to:

  • Missing teeth. You'll need a bridge to fill the gap and ensure that neighboring molars don’t drift. You can't make a tool like this at home, so you'll need to visit an expert for help.
  • Underlying disease. If your gums bleed, swell, turn red, or pull away from your teeth, you could have an oral health issue. An in-depth cleaning below the gumline could help your doctor to clear out bacteria you can't touch with a brush. That could put you on a course to a healthier mouth.
  • New teeth. Impacted or misaligned wisdom teeth are often pulled to preserve the health of the rest of the mouth. This isn't something you can do at home.
  • Injury. A blow to the face can make your teeth wobble and weave. It's often temporary, but a visit to a dental expert can ensure that the small issue you have now doesn't develop into something bigger.

If your teeth aren't moving now, but you want to gain the smile you had before this started, don't rush to braces. Sometimes, aligners are the best tools for minor or moderate adjustments.

Aligners work quickly, they tend to cost less money, and they're often less painful than braces.

References.

Your Aging Teeth. (May 2019). Healthy Women.

Why Are My Teeth Moving Apart? Ministry of Health, Malaysia.

Impacted Wisdom Teeth: Oral Surgery and Extraction. (June 2017). Live Science.

Retainers Keep Teeth from Shifting. Stanford Children's Health.

What Is Bruxism or Teeth Grinding? (March 2017). Medical News Today.

Can Retainers Realign Your Teeth? Colgate.

3 Tips for Bruxism or Teeth Grinding. National Sleep Foundation.

(Video) Don't show your lower teeth while taking | How to practice not to do so

Dental Health Mouth Guards. WebMD.

How to Treat a Loose Tooth in Adults. Medical News Today.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

FAQs

What to do to stop teeth shifting? ›

Here's how to prevent your teeth from shifting:
  1. Get serious about your oral hygiene routine. Brush twice a day and floss at least once a day, no exceptions, to keep periodontal disease at bay. ...
  2. Wear a night guard to stop bruxism. ...
  3. Replace missing or pulled teeth with spacers.

What causes teeth to suddenly shift? ›

Periodontal disease refers the inflammation (and infection) of tissues surrounding teeth especially bone and gum tissue. The result is bone loss over teeth which means less support for your teeth. Teeth shifting (and mobility) is a common consequence and often causes gaps (spaces) to open up between your teeth.

Can teeth shifting be reversed? ›

Sometimes you feel the teeth shifting pain as well. This change can be disturbing and concerning. But don't worry, as it is a common occurrence that can be treated, and the shift can be reversed.

How long until teeth stop shifting? ›

So, the bad news is that the teeth can continue to move in your 30s, 40s and even in your senior years. The good news is that this is easily prevented by wearing a dental retainer after braces or Invisalign, as well practicing good oral hygiene and seeking treatment for issues like bruxism and gum disease.

How long does shifting teeth last? ›

If the shifting was minor, your teeth should return to normal after a few days. Generally, it's not a significant issue if you forget to wear your retainer for a day or two.

Can stress shift your teeth? ›

So, can stress or anxiety cause your teeth to shift/move? The answer is a resounding YES! If feeling stressed or anxious causes you to develop bruxism, over time the regular grinding and clenching of your teeth and the subsequent pressure on them could cause them to alter position slightly.

Should I worry about my teeth shifting? ›

Shifting Is Normal but Not Always Healthy or Ideal

You can experience more dental issues, including dental decay, and gum disease. Thankfully, you can take your dental health into your own hands. With help from Dr.

How can I straighten my teeth in 2 weeks naturally? ›

Tips on How to Straighten Teeth Naturally
  1. Finger Pressure. ...
  2. Pushing With Your Tongue. ...
  3. Dental Floss or Rubber Bands. ...
  4. Make an Impression. ...
  5. Wear Your Clear Aligners. ...
  6. Follow a Few Easy Steps.
21 Mar 2022

Why do teeth shift with age? ›

As you age, you may begin to experience a loss of bone or bone density – and your teeth are no exception. This bone loss can cause your gums to recede, ironically making your teeth appear to be longer. Over time, ligaments, gum tissue, and bone start to weaken, causing teeth to shift more easily.

At what age do teeth start moving? ›

Between ages five and seven, most kids will experience their first loose tooth. Usually this is a lower front tooth (“central incisor”). Baby teeth get loose because their roots get shorter as they are actively pushed on by the grown up teeth coming up that will soon replace them.

Can teeth shift overnight? ›

Numerous people think that adult teeth won't change or move over their lifetime because they're permanent. This is false: adult teeth do and can shift over time, whether or not you had braces as a teenager or child. So yes, teeth move overnight, though the change might be imperceptible at first.

What does teeth shifting feel like? ›

If your teeth are more tender or more sensitive than usual, this could indicate shifting teeth. An uncomfortable or ill-fitting retainer. Your orthodontist will custom-make your retainer to fit your well-aligned teeth perfectly. So if your retainer no longer fits, this is a sure sign your teeth have shifted.

What is tooth anxiety? ›

Dental anxiety is fear, anxiety or stress associated with a dental setting. Being scared to visit the dentist can result in delaying or avoiding dental treatment. Things like needles, drills or the dental setting in general can trigger dental anxiety.

What anxiety does to your teeth? ›

Teeth grinding can be caused by a number of triggers, but the most common trigger is stress. When you are stressed, you may unconsciously clench your teeth while you sleep or grind your jaw back and forth. Over time, teeth grinding can cause your teeth to wear down or chip, and it can also wear out your TMJ.

Do night guards prevent teeth from moving? ›

It's important to note that while night guards are similar to retainers, one should not be worn in place of your doctor-prescribed retainer. Night guards are usually looser and not designed to keep your teeth from shifting back out of place.

What's the quickest way to straighten teeth? ›

In mild to moderate cases, Invisalign is typically the fastest method to straighten teeth. Some malocclusions (teeth misalignments), like front-to-back bite issues, may require you to wear rubber bands to fix the issue. Rubber bands attach to your braces or Invisalign trays to help align your jaw.

Can I straighten teeth myself? ›

The Risks of DIY Teeth Straightening

Teeth straightening performed at home without the supervision of an orthodontist to guide your treatment can potentially cause irreversible damage such as tooth damage, tooth loss, gum issues, and altered biting patterns, according to the American Association of Orthodontists.

Is 70 too old for braces? ›

The good news is that you can get your teeth straightened no matter your age. Braces aren't just for kids. Even adults aged 50 and over can benefit from treatment by an orthodontist.

Why are my teeth shifting in my 50s? ›

Jaw Bone Changes

As you get older, your lower jaw grows forward. At the same time, it becomes more narrow. This leads to teeth shifting in a few ways. First, when your lower jaw becomes more narrow, it can cause your lower teeth to crowd together and overlap.

How long does it take to notice teeth shifting? ›

In around three weeks or so, you may begin to notice your teeth feeling loser than usual. Now, your teeth are starting to move into their desired location. Although you may not see anything different, you'll feel that changes are happening.

Do teeth move during menopause? ›

Menopause may be a risk factor in the development of periodontal disease. Declining estrogen levels not only contribute to bone loss of the spine and hips, but also to bone loss of the jawbone, raising the risk for loose teeth and tooth loss.

Will my teeth shift without retainer for 2 weeks? ›

Not wearing a retainer for a month can result in your teeth beginning to shift back to their natural position. In as little as a week, depending on how recent you've had orthodontic work, your teeth will start to shift.

Can your teeth shift in your 20s? ›

Natural Shifting Happens Throughout Your Life

There's a tiny amount of shifting that happens throughout your life. Your bone density, lifestyle, and habits are changing and so is your bite.

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